Avandra - Descender - (9/10)
Published on April 20, 2019
“Descender” is the second full length album from progressive metal group “Avandra”. I guess the first thing that struck me about this one is the production value. Although it is reminiscent of a more old-school prog rock sound, the quality of it is as modern as it gets with a very full, oomphy sound that is also very transparent, making room for all instruments to shine through effortlessly and not have any details get lost or buried. The music that is delivered through that exceptional production is also very high quality. I guess this album is one of the best examples of finding a balance between the different elements of the music. It is quite heavy but also very melodic and loaded with groove. And despite the backbone of the music being thoroughly progressive, they always offer a theme or vocal line that is easy to hold on to, making it catchy and intricate at the same time.
Each member of this band showcases a lot of experience on his instrument. The bass, drums and guitars do a great job at driving the music forward and giving energy. The drumming is where the heavy, groovy and progressive sides all come together in a great delivery of intricacy, creativity and unpredictable patterns, spiced up by lots of details that you can always come back to pick up on. The bass is not used as a background instrument but it is very independent and actually a very important element in the expressive value of the music, giving a lot of depth as well as melody. The guitar is on the borderline between prog rock and metal sound. It creates the album’s substance with quite impactful riffs but also lots of melody and especially some very impressive solos that are properly technical and shreddy but always keep the musical aspect under the radar.
Although this is seriously progressive, it isn’t in any way a difficult listen. Thanks to consistent use of inspired melodies in the keyboard, guitar leads and vocal lines it is actually very relaxing and easy to get into. Ocasionally they will also pace themselves down to more ballad-like sound where they make great use of clean guitar, piano and allow the vocals to take the spotlight. But the music isn’t only divided between soft and heavy. They basically cover all the in-betweens (even in the same song) which gives a lot of diversity and prevents the album from getting repetitive or monotonous. The keyboard tones are also very diverse and interesting going from piano to ambience enriching strings background and to electronic digital synth effects.
When putting everything together “Descender” as a whole is a very complete progressive metal album of top-notch quality. They pull everything together to make the music work and keep you into it all the way through. It is clever, cohesive, very creative songwriting that also sounds really natural. Despite its many proggy and complex elements, it is so well balanced that it doesn’t attack the listener in any way and I think that you will easily enjoy it from the very first listen